UAE farmers to tackle climate change challenges through a new partnership
A strategic partnership between Bayer, a global life sciences leader, and Silal, a prominent agri-tech company affiliated with ADQ in Abu Dhabi, is geared towards advancing sustainable agriculture in the UAE.
This collaboration aims to conduct extensive trials of vegetable seeds, provide capacity-building programs for farmers, and address challenges related to climate change.
The joint initiative will involve testing over 30 varieties of vegetable seeds, including tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons, to evaluate their performance in the challenging desert conditions of the UAE. The trials will encompass open-field and mid-tech greenhouse setups, assessing factors such as crop endurance, quality, and shelf-life characteristics.
Hugo Hagen, a senior representative of Bayer Middle East, emphasized that the harsh weather conditions in the Middle East make the UAE an ideal platform for assessing crop performance. The trials will not only benefit agricultural practices in the UAE but will also contribute valuable data to inform global agricultural processes, especially in regions grappling with climate change challenges.
The data gathered from these trials will assess key traits per crop, including yield, fruit size, resistance to viruses and diseases, tolerance to stress, early maturity, and taste. The findings will aid in combating climate change challenges, particularly rising temperatures and humidity levels, by providing crucial information on sustainable agricultural practices.
Hagen underscored the significance of using innovative solutions and advanced technologies to counter the challenges posed by desert conditions. Techniques such as no-till farming, crop protection, and breeding technology can contribute to better soil management. Additionally, advancements in crop science, such as the use of cover crops and Bayer's Carbon Program, aim to reduce soil disruption, enhance carbon storage, and improve crop performance.
To address the complex issues of desert agriculture, precision seed application, irrigation management, and the use of technology like drones and satellites for real-time field health data are crucial. Hagen emphasized the importance of supporting farmers through training programs, leveraging Bayer's BayG.A.P. capacity-building initiative. This phased approach involves equipping local agricultural engineers with knowledge and training tools, who will then extend their expertise to farmers in the UAE, focusing on topics such as integrated pest management, safe crop protection product use, application technology, and irrigation. The goal is to empower farmers with the necessary tools to face the challenges of cultivating crops in arid conditions.